Middle School Rant………..Rational Forms

The school year has ended and summer school is in full swing. Well, for some I guess. This school year I taught 4th grade math to 70 wonderful 4th graders. Now during the month of June I have the pleasure of teaching 8th grade math remediation. It’s very interesting to see how non proficient 8th graders struggle with elementary concepts.

This was very evident on the first day of summer school when I asked,  “Who does not know how to divide?” Much to my amazement 3 students admitted that they do not know how to divide. I decided that this would be a challenge since  summer school really is only 3 weeks.  So, I did what every smart teacher does I gave them calculators!

My first lesson that I had to teach was rational forms. This proved to be a huge challenge for the students because they could not convert between fractions and decimals or create equivalent decimals. Luckily I remember the pennies and dimes  lesson that I taught my 4th graders .

Pennies and Decimals
Pennies and Decimals

Using this strategy seemed to help the students to create equivalent decimals such as .9 and .90 because they understood that 90 pennies was equivalent to 9 dimes. After we got over the hump with equivalent decimals another challenge was converting common fractions to decimals without using a calculator. I showed them how to calculate fourths with the relationship to a dollar, and fifths using the fist of 5.

Fist of 5
Fist of 5


The fist of  5 helped tremendously for most but some still were tied to the calculator even though they had an easier method to help them remember fifths.  One thing that I am learning from teaching 8th grade math remediation is that I am so grateful for my elementary math background because it helps me simplify math concepts as needed.

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